This is one of those recipes that you struggle with seasonality-wise. While it’s most likely a winter recipe—braising lamb shanks until tender, the handfuls of herbs get a little costly when you can’t run out and grab them from your garden.
However, I had a few beautiful shanks from some local lamb that were crying out to be used, so I splurged and bought all (well, almost all) the herbs for this. This needs time, but it’s an easy recipe. From the NY Times Cooking this feeds 6-8.
Braised Lamb Shanks with Lots of Herbs
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 5 pounds lamb shanks (5 to 6 shanks)
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion (white or red), peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, coarsely cracked
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 2 bunches scallions, finely chopped
- 2 cups chopped spicy greens such as mustard greens or arugula
- 1 ½ cups chopped cilantro
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped mint or dill or a combination
- ½ cup chopped tarragon
- ½ cup chopped chives
- About 1 cup chicken or lamb stock, or water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Fresh lemon juice, as needed (optional)
In a large bowl (or Ziploc bag) large enough to hold the lamb, mix together salt, paprika and pepper. Add shanks and rub all over with spice mix. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours (or up to 24 hours) in the refrigerator.
Heat oven to 325°. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat a splash of olive oil. Sear the lamb in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, adding more oil as needed. Take your time with this, making sure to brown the lamb all over. Transfer browned lamb to a plate.
When all the lamb is cooked, add onion to empty skillet and cook it in the lamb drippings (adding a more oil if pan looks dry) until limp and lightly browned at the edges, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, coriander, cayenne and allspice and cook until the garlic is very fragrant and opaque, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Pour in wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on bottom of pan. Let mixture simmer until thickened and reduced by about a third (about 5 minutes). Add lamb back to pan and coat with the mixture.
In a bowl, toss together scallions, spicy greens, and herbs. Sprinkle lamb with half the herb mixture and set remaining half aside for serving. Cover pan and bake until meat is falling off the bones, 3 to 3 1/2 hours total, turning shanks every hour so they cook evenly. If the bottom of the pan starts to dry out before lamb is done, add a few tablespoons of the stock or water to moisten it.
When shanks are tender, transfer to a heated serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. If you like, at this point you can tear the meat off the bones; or, serve the shanks bone-in.
On top of the stove, heat roasting pan over medium-low heat. If pan is dry, add remaining stock or water and bring to a simmer. (If drippings in pan seem very fatty, spoon off some of the fat.) Bring drippings to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on bottom of pan.
Once the liquid is reduced to a thin glaze, add butter to pan along with all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining herbs (save those for garnish). Whisk sauce until smooth, then taste and add lemon juice as needed. Pour sauce over the lamb and garnish with chopped herbs. Serve and enjoy!
This might be my new favorite way to do lamb shanks! The shanks were so tender and the combination of cooked down and fresh herbs was delicious.
I halved the recipe because I only had a couple of shanks. Didn’t buy parsley or chives, and just added more arugula and chopped some of the green parts of the scallions finer. Would probably not bother with the tarragon either if I wasn’t doing the whole recipe.
This could easily be done in a slow cooker or Insta-Pot (and that might be my summer choice when the herbs are all in the garden), but it was pretty easy in a Dutch oven. The only issue I had was that it kept drying out, so I added more wine and when that bottle was empty, went to water.
I served it over orzo, but couscous, polenta or rice would work well.
Since it was such a success, I did it a couple of weeks later with a leg of lamb. Everyone loved it and Frank said it was the best leg of lamb he’d ever had!